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Monday, December 10, 2007

A Tale of Three Letters

The TD printed my rebuttal to Doug Allen's hypercritical response to my proposal to end feeding programs in Monroe Park. I am reproducing all three letters in order of appearance here along with links to the original publication.

Killing on Broad St. Shows Homeless Problem

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

It finally came down to this: Someone had to die to highlight the seriousness of the homeless problem in downtown Richmond. The Fan, downtown, and especially Monroe Park have borne the brunt of the failure of our behavioral health system for far too long.

It was only a matter of time before something went wrong. This time it was a senior. Next time it could be a student.

As there are existing alternatives already in place, organized feeding of the homeless in Monroe Park needs to end immediately. It's time to give the park back to the citizens and the city of Richmond. There shouldn't be a next time.

Paul Hammond.


Dehumanizing Homeless Doesn't Help Anybody

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Some of the comments in Paul Hammond's letter are ignorant at best and egregious at worst. Besides using fear-mongering to vilify a segment of the population that had nothing to do with the recent murder of Susanne Thompson, he unjustifiably called for the "organized feeding of the homeless in Monroe Park . . . to end immediately," claiming that it is "time to give [Monroe] Park back to the citizens and the city of Richmond."

Apparently Hammond does not feel the homeless or those distributing food to them are citizens of Richmond.

Dehumanizing rhetoric like the kind Hammond displayed is what helps to create gaps between people instead of bridges, and allows stereotypes to take over and become apparent truths.

Next time, when a panhandler asks for some change, instead of pretending they do not exist, those who feel the way Hammond does should at least acknowledge them, like they were, you know, human. Perhaps that would help change a few perspectives.

Doug Allen.


Park Is Ill-Served As Homeless Center

Monday, Dec 10, 2007

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In reply to Doug Allen's letter, "Dehumanizing Homeless Doesn't Help Anybody," criticizing me and my views regarding the homeless:

--I do not fear-monger, though many people are afraid.

--Many of the people serving the homeless are not citizens of Richmond.

--Many of the homeless served in Monroe Park are not from Richmond and many are not really homeless.

--I am for constructive solutions that help people who want to escape from the cycle of drugs and poverty. Using Monroe Park as a homeless service center serves neither the homeless nor the residents of the neighborhood. Monroe Park is essentially useless under current circumstances and is avoided by almost all Richmonders, citizens or not.

--I speak to panhandlers everyday, look them in the face, and am friends with several.

Denying a connection between attracting hundreds of vagrants, alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill and crime in the neighborhood just defies common sense.

Paul Hammond.


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